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Diversity Indices: Simpson's D and E

Author(s): Lou Gross1, Monica Beals1, Susan Harrell1

University of Tennessee Knoxville

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This module introduces Simpson's diversity index in the context of understanding how to mathematically measure the species diversity in a community. It is intended for an introductory biology audience.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 15 Feb 2019 doi:10.25334/Q4CX5Z - cite this


This activity maps to the OpenStax biology textbook, 45.6 Community Ecology

Student Introduction: A diversity index is a mathematical measure of species diversity in a community. Diversity indices provide more information about community composition than simply species richness (i.e., the number of species present); they also take the relative abundances of different species into account. Consider two communities of 100 individuals each and composed of 10 different species. One community has 10 individuals of each species; the other has one individual of each of nine species, and 91 individuals of the tenth species. Which community is more diverse? Clearly the first one is, but both communities have the same species richness. By taking relative abundances into account, a diversity index depends not only on species richness but also on the evenness, or equitability, with which individuals are distributed among the different species.

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